Now on to albums 21 to 25.
MAC DEMARCO, “SALAD DAYS”
He might be referred to as the “Goofball Prince of Indie Rock” (and for good reason) for his unique and wily sense of humour, but Mac DeMarco has seen his star brighten not because of his antics but his aw-shucks brand of indie rock resonates and appeals to all individuals, young and old. His latest effort, Salad Days, sees DeMarco extend himself a little more with songs that have a chilled-out, surfer-rock feel to the folk-rock of Neil Young to groovy, funky numbers. So beneath the joker veneer is a serious songwriter, whose current trajectory could see him achieve the levels of other great Canadian songwriters, like Young, Gordon Lightfoot, and Leonard Cohen.
(And if you missed it, check out our little adventure with Mac during the Ottawa Bluesfest.)
MARISSA NADLER, “JULY”
There is no shortage of great records from female singer-songwriters this year. In a year where Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Jenny Lewis and others released such prominent records, Marissa Nadler released July, one of the most hauntingly beautiful records of the year. Part of what is so striking about July is its simplicity and minimalism. Nadler’s voice floats over simple guitar melodies that do not distract the listener from her ethereal voice. More fitting of its February release, July has a sobering coldness to it both lyrically and musically – the first lyrics on July are “If you ain’t made it now, you’re never gonna make it”. Nadler, regardless of the month or season, has made it.
For the last few years, Misun have released some of the best psychedelic pop songs, yet often went under-the-radar within the indie music scene. This has all changed this year when the Washington, D.C.-based band released their much anticipated, debut album, Superstitutions. But instead of sticking to their tried-and-true formula of dreamy, synth-pop numbers, the band took chances, incorporating textures and sounds from unexpected genres, such as country and folk, to create an album that was fun, captivating, and euphoric from start to finish.
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, “BRILL BRUISERS”
The Kings and Queens of modern-day power-pop return with yet another fantastic album. The New Pornographers‘ latest album, Brill Bruisers, still has the super group churning out uptempo pop and rock tunes that effortlessly swing between various sounds, textures and key vocal leaders. The album draws on musical influences from multiple time periods including 80’s synth pop and even 70’s psychedelia. Whether it is AC Newman, Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, or Dan Bejar signing lead, every song is timeless, making Brill Bruisers an instant classic.
OUGHT, “MORE THAN ANY OTHER DAY”
In a year of great debut albums and one that saw the tremendous growth of psychedelic pop and synth-pop, Ought‘s debut album, More Than Any Other Day, was refreshing for its inventive and borderline brilliant sound and approach. With each listen, we were dazzled more and more by the experimental rock of the four expats who now reside in Montreal. More Than Any Other Day is more than just an album; it is a mind-blowing journey about youthful angst, naivete, and discovery that is heightened by frontman Tim Beeler’s vocals and unique lyrics. And we have to give a nod to his stage presence, which is unforgettable.
Of note, Ought also released Once More With Feeling later in the year, a stellar EP in its own right.
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